Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Beggar's Opera

Opera Theater Oregon
October 22 - 31, 2009

Review by peanutduck

Portlandia twist creates holey logic: Transfiguring Mack’s knife into guitar eliminates his threat to society (unless it’s upon the ears?), and motivations, logic unravel therefrom. Lyrics and music/arrangements raucous, inspired; lush
Song of Redemption – HERE is the play. Stage cramped; mediocre ensemble pushes self-conscious theatricality. Watch Leah Yorkston, Bobby Jackson.


Anonymous said...

Interesting idea completely sunk by all around amateurish feel. Beaudoin has arrogantly (IMHO) tried to better Gay and ended up making a fool of himself. Needs a much firmer directorial hand, one probably removed from the writing team. Music is completely antithetical to both Gay's original pastiche and Weill's Threepenny version. To quote some wise person, When (the original) ain't broke, don't fix it. Unfortunately, a waste.

Anonymous said...

I went expecting a lot - or at least something - and was surprised how meek and mild it was. Very little to see. A satire? This felt more like a high school production. Sad because the cast seemed good, the venue is perfect for a unique live experience. But there was no material to work with. This was a total miss.

Anne D said...

This is a fresh and compelling original work with some major bumps along the road... I agree with the above commenter that it's not Brecht/Weill or John Gay, but who else could be?

Best parts: new music from Buey Larue band and the first and last ten minutes of the show; the show within a show concept helps move things along; a great cast of singing actors with superb voices. I think Beth Masden Bradford as Mrs. Peachum and Leah Yorkston as Polly do nice work.

The piece feels incomplete.

Anonymous said...

Embarrassingly bad from almost every standpoint. I went to this with really high hopes and kept myself from walking out, repeatedly thinking, "It has to get better." It never did. This is a potent example that simply having a good idea isn't enough--this is a shambles virtually every step of the way, with the exception of some decent singing. I think Beaudoin should go back to critiquing, he's not cut out for writing or directing.

Kern said...

There is a lot to like about this show, even if it can be sprawling and messy and the plot somtimes a touch confusing.

So because people here dwell on the negative, i would like to point out the many positive parts of what i saw on opening (thursday) night's show:

1. A great cast with beautiful voices and you can understand everything they say and sing. i was expecting big ugly opera singers and it was nice to find a young and vibrant cast. i want to point out great showings from bob jackson as randy lockit (hahah) and beth bradford as mrs. peachum!

2. One of the best bands i've ever heard in a musical in portland - well, a rock musical anyway.

3. interesting and unique staging, compelling performances.

4. Really nice use of lighting, especially for the space which isn't really a theatre to begin with.

OK so that said there are some problems with the work and with the staging... i don't buy the whole plot line about macheath's career being threatned by a gay sex tape, that seems like a stretch. also the pacing can be very dull.

but bravo! for great music and some really funny material (sometimes) :)

Anonymous said...

Don't know why, but I'm really kind of upset at how bad this was. Everything seemed scattershot and underrehearsed and I just thought the whole thing was ill conceived and badly done. I had really high hopes for this which is probably why I'm beyond disappointed--I'm kind of angry actually.

Anonymous said...

Just left the Saturday night show and my friend and I are buzzing!!

This is a totally original script with some truly rocking music. The references to Portland and the general contemporary setting are sometimes truly funny!

This is a first rate cast doing great work with new material. Not all of it is perfect - the second act is really hit or miss - but what is?

Kudos to the band and to the lead players Polly, Lucy and Mackheath!

Anonymous said...

"Big Ugly Opera Singers?"


Anonymous said...

"Don't know why, but I'm really kind of upset at how bad this was." Anon, could it be because of all of the shameless self-promotion SMB ginned up? The previews and interviews made it up to be some big artistic splash that in reality didn't even come close to.

I do agree with all of the positive comments about the music and singing...very good, but you can't do much with talent if you don't have a cohesive story with good direction.

Take it back to the woodshed and workshop it some more.

Anonymous said...

This was a visceral and exciting night at the theatre, in a funny and poignant new work performed by a top notch cast. The last ten minutes was especially moving - when Mack is sacrificed - by the stirring combinations of words and music. Bravo all around!

Anonymous said...

Boy did we ever see different shows. I found it completely uninvolving and often boring. Singing was the best part, but found the band overbearing and not especially good anyway and the whole concept was too self conscious and "wink, wink, nudge, nudge" to ever make me feel anything.

Anonymous said...


opera theatre oregon has outdone themsevles with a gorgeous production that veers from the absurd and totally over the top to very moving and serious. i think, anyway.

there is sublime and beautiful stuff happening onstage, including some very funny dialogue and great music. i can't say enough good things about the band and the cast.

Anonymous said...

This followspot review misses the point, and in the original Mack is not a "knife" as he is in Brecht/Weill, so to compare 3Penny Opera to the 1728 original is silly.

What matters most is this is a striking new work with great music, great lyrics and a decent script, performed thrillingly by a very good cast.

Watch Emily Zahnizer too. She is a dynamite Lucy.

peanutduck said...

Since the production refers to Macheath as "Mack the Guitar" the line to Three Penny is there to be drawn.

Anonymous said...

"To compare 3Penny..to the 1728 original is silly." Are you serious? Do you not know the history of the development of the Brecht-Weill version? And how could you possibly argue that this wrong-headed and pretentious (if, yes, well sung) version does not again go back to both sources for its genesis. My jaw is, as they say, agape.

Anonymous said...

I agree the song of redemption is so so powerful!

i didn't find the ensemble to be amateurish at all, actually. i thought they were totally committed to the show and very strong.

agree bobbby jackson and leah yorkston are ones to watch!